September 2014 Newsletter – Traditional Birth Attendant Training
Dear Loyal Supporters
I have just returned from a great visit to Tanzania, where we ran training for our local Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs). I was really excited about this, because being a midwife myself I am aware of how much TBAs can contribute to ensuring the safe delivery of women and their babies. The maternal and child mortality in Tanzania is very high and so I was delighted when we were invited to share in doing something about this.
The training went really well, and was fascinating, with the TBAs sharing their experiences of both normal and difficult births. We joined together in acting out some of our birth experiences – with our clothes on! As well as being very entertaining, this allowed us to share best practice for caring for women in labour.
The women loved the training and have told us since how helpful it has been to their practice.
Plans arising from the training were the importance of getting all pregnant women to attend for antenatal care, and the need for an ambulance to enable the TBAs to transfer their women to hospital, without delay, when problems arise. There is currently no ambulance for the 42,000 people living on the Eastern side of NCA. We feel that this is an urgent need which must be addressed. More detail about the training is available in our full report on the WTWT website, below.
After the first day’s training a ceremony was held with singing and dancing to thank WTWT for helping with the building of their medical centre and giving loans and student sponsorship. It was also a request for more help with funding solar panels and furniture for the Medical Centre, building a classroom in a remote sub village with no primary school and sponsoring more students and loans. We have budgeted to fulfil most of these requests.
Health Education and FGM
You responded amazingly to our appeal for funds to educate about the harmful effects of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and with Gift Aid we raised £3,083.75. This is enough to cover the next stage of the plan: culturally appropriate films (made by Maasai communities who have stopped FGM) shown in the open air with questions and answers and discussions with the whole community.
Our Tanzanian team are doing really well in talking to men and women locally about these problems, with many elders pledging to no longer cut their daughters. However we are finding it is difficult for them, particularly our women staff, because not everyone is in agreement that FGM is harmful and sometimes they experience hostility. The whole community education we are planning through showing films, will not just focus on FGM, which would be seen as an attack on their culture, it will be incorporated with other issues: HIV/AIDS, the importance of education for all girls and boys, the problems with early child marriage, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and the importance of antenatal care for all pregnant women.
Longer term we would like to run the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) designed by Tostan. This non-formal education has been shown to transform communities and lead to sustainable social change, including whole community abandonment of FGM. I hope to attend the first workshop run by Tostan with our staff in 2015, where we will learn more about how we might bring the CEP to Tanzania.
WTWT’s work in 2014:
Thanks to the capability of our staff and the teams that they supervise, we have been able to expand this programme to two more villages. All previous loans have been paid back and so this August we gave business training and loans to 70 people in two more villages. There have been some amazing unexpected benefits. The women with successful businesses have not wanted their hard earned money spent on alcohol by their husbands. This is a big problem in the communities and one which leads to a lot of domestic violence. To counteract this, the women decided to ban the sale of alcohol in the local shops. Their men are now more supportive of them!
We have had many enthusiastic reports from people who have received loans on how much it has changed their lives. One woman has bought three goats from her savings and is now better able to feed her children, another said she can now afford to send her children to school. We were frequently approached during my visit with more requests for loans but we’ve currently reached our limits for funding.
We continue with our plans to build preschools in all of the 13 subvillages of Nainokanoka ward. The next one will be built as soon as we have had the environmental impact assessment from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.
We continue with our sponsorship of 20 students at secondary school and four in further education: two are training to be teachers and two to be builders. When qualified these builders will be able to build our pre-schools and the teachers to teach in them.
Again, during my visit, we were frequently approached with requests for secondary school student sponsorship.
Hunger and Malnutrition
This continues to be a big problem across the whole of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area since the ban on growing vegetables in 2008. The people are suffering particularly at the moment with a recurrence of drought. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation) are running a project called ‘People and Wildlife: Past, Present and Future’ to address the conflicting issues of wildlife conservation, tourism and the difficulties of the local people. It is a long term programme for all stakeholders, which, for the first time, seeks to work out the best strategies on equal footing. The Maasai have never before been involved in a meaningful way in key decisions which affect their lives. This has had a negative effect both on the people and the wildlife. Modern conservation practice now acknowledges that you can’t successfully conserve wildlife without full participation of local indigenous populations. I have been in touch with Nicole Bolomey, who is managing this UNESCO project. She explained the situation and plan to me and wrote:
‘….we are aware, that in the meantime people are still starving. We have therefore also engaged in talking to the Tanzanian authorities in charge, and also some UN agencies, but our resources in manpower are also very limited – so we do what we can.’
I spoke with Nicole on Skype to see if there is anything more we can do through WTWT. Nicole was really encouraging of our work and said that the things we are doing at the moment are the best way forward to support these people in their fight to survive hunger in the short and longer term. She told us to keep it up!
We are hugely grateful for all your financial support and your encouragement for all our work. Without you we could not do any of this.
We are having a Quiz Night on Saturday November 8th 2014 from 7-11pm in Weston Turville Village Hall, School Approach, Main Street, Weston Turville, Aylesbury, HP22 5RW, to raise funds for our work. Tickets are £15 to include a meal, and there will be a bar and a raffle. If you would like tickets please contact me by phone or email (below)
With much love and thanks
Rachel, David and Daniel Blackmore, Michael Hasler, Ruth Cornish, Suchita Raja, Viv Pangalos, Ponja Tayai, Embapa Oloishiro, Esupat Oloulu and all at WTWT in Tanzania.
As always, our expenses and administration are paid by ourselves, so all of your donations go directly to the community projects.
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